OpenAcademic.org – blending Moodle, Drupal, Mediawiki, Elgg

I must have blinked when this was announced, but OpenAcademic.org sounds like a perfect scenario. Development efforts to integrate some of the biggest open source tools used in online education. It sounds like the goal is to come up with a way for Drupal, Elgg, Mediawiki and Moodle to all play nicely together, in such a way as to be easily deployable and maintainable by even the smallest school. Rather than attempting to build The One True LMS, they’re taking the approach of playing to the strengths of the available tools, and putting the effort into integration.

The really cool thing is a documented commitment by the OpenAcademic.org team to not fork projects, and to contribute any code to the relevant communities. So, they’ll be hacking on each of these applications directly, with all improvements freely available to everyone.

Personally, I think this is one of the biggest and coolest developments in online education for the year. I’m ashamed that I missed the announcement almost a month ago.

I’ve been spending almost all of my time lately in Drupal, with some time in Moodle. It’s pretty obvious that each has its own strengths (and weaknesses), and that spending effort to duplicate each package’s feature set would be wasteful and counterproductive. Having an effective way to integrate these various tools would be amazingly powerful, especially as more applications, platforms and tools are brought into the mix.

Imagine an elearning ecosystem that ties in Drupal, Mediawiki, Elgg, Moodle, Blackboard, WebCT, Flickr, del.icio.us, Facebook, YouTube, etc… in a flexible system that can adapt to any pedagogical needs. Sweet.

6 thoughts on “OpenAcademic.org – blending Moodle, Drupal, Mediawiki, Elgg”

  1. Hello, D’Arcy,

    You identified the OA goal precisely: to develop a stack that can be deployed and maintained by institutions of different sizes — frequently, smaller institutions get left out because they don’t have the financial resources/tech staff to deploy the latest tools. One of our goals is to reduce the barrier to entry for these smaller institutions while creating a tool that scales for the needs of larger institutions.

    However, we’re aiming at more than just an LMS — our goal is to create a system where social learning can exist alongside the needs of the institution without one having to interfere with the other. There is no need for the needs of students (and, more importantly, the benefits of informal learning) to be eclipsed by institutional needs.

    RE: replacements for flickr and del.icio.us — there are a few modules that fit this need within Drupal — for social bookmarking, a few modules have been produced over the last few months — I’m partial to the userlink module, simply because we built it :) However, there is also the links package, janode, and a few other Drupal modules that bring social bookmarking into Drupal.

    For flickr, Drupal currently integrates with Gallery2, and it also has a few other contrib modules, including image and acidfree — so, it is very possible to run a site with social bookmarking and image sharing without using flickr or delicious.

  2. Only one small thing… I’d rather see open source, host-your-own replacements for Flickr and del.icio.us (and maybe the rest). I’m hesitant to trust my (and my class’ data) to a third-party, commercial service.

  3. There is a quality open-source version of del.icio.us called Scuttle. My experience with it has been positive.

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